Energy Choices: Fun with Conservation


On Monday, New York's Clarkson University announced the latest effort to come out of its National Science Foundation-funded K-12 Project-Based Learning Partnership Program: the board game Energy Choices. Designed for middle-school students, the game challenges players to learn about both national energy policy, and the impact of personal choices on energy conservation. According to the university's press release, Energy Choices enourages students to have fun while thinking about the big picture of energy use:

Clarkson is hoping the game will help develop the next generation of energy-smart consumers by getting them to think about how energy choices are made, the role economics plays in these decisions and how to determine which trade-offs are acceptable and which are not.

With a role of the dice, the players confront challenges and must make energy decisions that balance environmental consequences with economic considerations.

"The game is challenging and fun," said Susan Powers, professor and associate dean for Research & Graduate Studies at Clarkson's Coulter School of Engineering. "It helps students understand energy concepts and the complexity of the issues. It also reinforces for each student the important role he or she really does play as an environmental stakeholder in our world."

While the press release seems to be the only source of information about the game right now (at least that's what other media outlets are running), the Energy Choices board shows that the 11-13 year old players have to deal with gas prices (in fact, they literally can't pass a gas station without filling up), as well as the global events that can impact what we pay at the pump. One blue space, for instance, gives students this situation: "China completes a new superhighway. Demand for cars and gasoline increases. Prices increase." Another reads "Gas is prevalent, though expensive. Energy costs are fairly low, but they might go up soon." As many adults still have trouble recognizing the global forces at work in the prices we pay for gasoline and electricity, Energy Choices will certainly challenge the New York students currently trying it out. It might just also prepare them for adult lives in which cheap energy isn't something to be taken for granted. ::Clarkson University and via jiltedcitizen at Hugg

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